I have reached that fairly comfortable place in my life where there is little I want or need for Christmas. A book is nice, but I have lots of books that I haven't even read yet.
Today, as I drove to pick up my lunch from a nearby sushi place, I was flipping through radio stations in my car (why, oh why is Prince the first thing I hear on almost every station???) when I accidentally pressed the button that turned my favorite station into 24/7 Christmas music. Don't get me wrong - I love Christmas music - but I don't want to hear it from before Thanksgiving all the way to Christmas Day. Start it up on December 15th or even the 20th. That's plenty of time... but I digress. So, I accidentally pushed that button and "The Little Drummer Boy" was playing. It was at the part where it goes "... a child, a child, shivers in the cold. Let us bring him silver and gold..." and I teared up.
Yeah, sometimes I'm a sap. Songs and commercials get to me. But this.... this triggered a whole series of thoughts about children and cold and homelessness and hunger. It also started me thinking about the the way the world is today. All those borders that are being closed to refugees. People being shot for being teens or cops or trans-gendered or just standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. These people who commit all these atrocities against other people - were they cared for as children? Did they have enough to eat? Were they warm enough? Have they had enough opportunities to make something of themselves? Were they loved?
I was one of the lucky ones. I was always loved, always fed, always housed. I did well in school because I was smart, but also because my stomach wasn't empty and I had a loving home to return to at the end of the day. No one was beating me or telling me I was worthless or sexually abusing me or depriving me of sleep so I couldn't focus on school.
Shivers in the cold. Not just little kids either. Teens are a huge homeless population. So are veterans and people with mental health issues.
I am only one person and I am not rich. I cannot fix the world by myself. But because I am in this place where I don't want/need Christmas presents, I have a request of you. If you are someone who might normally give me something, would you instead do something to support a shelter or a food pantry or a program that helps the homeless and/or underserved? Something big, something small - it doesn't matter. You don't even have to tell me - just do it. Below, I've posted some organizations around Tallahassee that can use some help, but if you're not here, feel free to explore organizations in your own area. This is, unfortunately, not a local problem.
Going Places (supports homeless and traveling teens)
Grace Mission (feeds/clothes homeless and underserved, programs for children)
Kearney Center (homeless shelter)
Good News Outreach (food ministry, elderly)
ECHO (people in crisis/poverty)
Refuge House (domestic violence)
And I'd like to add Orphan's Heart, which feeds undernourished children in Guatemala and all over.
I know of this one personally through another blogger who goes there as often as possible and helps out at the Malnutrition Center in Guatemala. Because of her, I've gotten to see a tiny boy named Bili grow from a weak, tiny child to a strong, robust one who started school and moved home with his family this past year. To read about it, visit From a Heavenly Land and search for Guatemala.
P.S. Our new program, LOCAL ROUTES on WFSU-TV recently featured a story on Going Places. Take a look.
These are but a few. I'm sure you can find more. Part of me thinks (hopes) that if we can care for the people out there, young and old TODAY, perhaps the future can be more about love than hate and anger and me-first. Thank you. And Merry Christmas.